March Madness is upon us and as usual, New England is well represented in all four regions. So in the event you’re calling out of work Thursday and Friday (reportedly the two most popular sick days of the year in the U.S. economy) here are the local products to watch for:
Kellan Grady, Davidson – The NMH and New England Playaz alum was the A10 Rookie of the Year before making the game winner to help Davidson cut down the nets in the conference tournament. He’s had an absolutely phenomenal freshman year and will need to be equally big if Davidson is to come up with a first round win because they’re headed against….
Wenyen Gabriel, Kentucky – The Wilbraham & Monson and Mass Rivals product was huge en route to Kentucky’s SEC championship with seven threes in a single game. Gabriel is as long and active as ever, a spark plug for Kentucky’s defense, and when he’s making shots like that he becomes one of John Calipari’s most important pieces.
Cane Broome & Kyle Washington, Cincinnati – The Bearcats are the 2 seed in the south and the two former New England prep products are a big reason why. Broome is an East Hartford, Connecticut native and St. Thomas More alum who began his career at Sacred Heart before transferring up to Cincinnati following the 15-16 season. Washington, who is a Brewster Academy alum, leads the team’s frontline with 11 points, 5 boards, and 1.4 blocks per night.
Others: Vermont Academy and BABC alum Bruce Brown undoubtedly would have been one of the best players in this region, and may still dress in the First Round, but will unfortunately miss the tournament due to injury…Brewster Academy alum Joe Sherburne starts for UMBC, who upset Vermont in the America East championship game, and faces Virginia in the opening round…Cushing Academy alum Kaleb Joseph and East Catholic High School alum Mike McGuirl will see their teams match-up when Creighton faces Kansas State in the 8-9 game…former Boston Trinity guard Nisre Zouzoua is sitting out per NCAA transfer rules but will be on the bench for 7th seeded Nevada…there’s plenty of coaches in this bracket with local ties too including Austin Carroll (Arizona), Preston Murphy (Creighton), Orlando Vandross (Virginia), and Cody Hatt (Texas).
Tyrique Jones & Kerem Kanter, Xavier – The top seed in the bracket has a front-line that is rooted in the New England prep ranks. Connecticut native and Vermont Academy alum Tyrique Jones brings a definite boost of power and energy off the bench while former Wilbraham & Monson forward Kerem Kanter is averaging over 10 points per game in just 16 minutes of action. The Musketeers also have a familiar face on the sidelines in assistant coach Luke Murray.
Terance Mann, Florida State – The former Tilton and BABC product is still stuffing all columns of the stat sheet and winning games just like he did in his high school games. He’s put up 13 points and almost 6 boards and 3 assists for the Seminoles this year as they earned the 9 seed and will face Missouri in the opening round.
Alpha Diallo & Makai Ashton-Langford, Providence – The Friars feature a pair of Brewster alums in Diallo and Ashton-Langford. Diallo is one of Providence’s most important players averaging 13 points per game and a team best 6.6 rebounds. Ashton-Langford, who Worcester native who starred for the Mass Rivals, has had a slower freshman season than expected but has had some big moments over the course of the last couple of weeks.
Duncan Robinson, Michigan – The former Phillips Exeter and Middlesex Magic star began his college career at Division III Williams College before transferring to Michigan where he has been a key member of the rotation for John Beilein. He’s averaged nearly 10 points per game this year while shooting 39% from three. The 3rd seeded Wolverines meet Montana in the opening round.
Francis Alonso, UNC Greensboro – He went by Francisco Alonso when he was at Cushing and he’s been an undeniable steal for UNCG since day one. He put up nearly 16 points per game for Wes Miller, a New Hampton School alum, this year and is one of their undisputed top players. UNCG, the 13th seed, meets Gonzaga in the first round.
Max Montana, San Diego State – If you don’t recognize the name it’s because he went by Max Hoetzel when he was at Wilbraham & Monson. Hoetzel initially committed to Indiana and spent two years there before taking on his middle name, Montana, and transfserring to San Diego State around the same time.
Others: NMH alum Andrew Platek played in all but two games this year as a freshman at North Carolina while New Hampton alum Walker Miller is a recruited walk-on for the team…former Vermont Academy forward Ronnie Suggs is a part of the Missouri team that will take on Mann and Florida State in the 8/9 match-up.
Omari Spellman, Eric Paschall, & Jermaine Samuels, Villanova – Spellman, the former MacDuffie and St. Thomas More product, won the Big East’s Freshman of the Year award this year after missing last season. Another former STM product, Paschall, is equally important for the Wildcats as he puts up 10 points and 5 boards per night after beginning his career at Fordham, where he took the A10 Freshman of the Year award. Samuels, the Rivers alum and former Expressions product, spent most of his freshman season on the injured list but recently returned to the line-up.
Raiquan Clark, Julian Batts, Shyheim Hicks, and Tyrn Flowers, LIU – Long Island has a slew of New England connections, including head coach Derek Kellogg and assistant Ralph Auriental (who is the former head coach at the Master’s School). Former Hillhouse star Raiquan Clark has exceeded all expectations and averaged 17 points and 7 boards per night while Batts, a former St. Thomas More product, has held down the teams starting point guard position. Former Springfield Commonwealth guard Hicks is just a freshman while Flowers, a Sacred Heart (CT) alum, is sitting out per NCAA transfer rules after leaving UMass.
Matt Mobley, Idris Taqqee, and Tshiefu Ngalakulondi, St. Bonaventure – Mobley, the St. Peter Marian alum and former Worcester Academy post-grad, has been one of the A10’s best this year putting up almost 19 points per game along with 5 boards and 2-and-a-half assists. Taqqee, the former Cushing Academy and Expressions product, cracked the starting line-up this year while Ngalukulondi, previously of Proctor Academy and the D.C. Blue Devils, has been his understudy.
Wabissa Bede, Virginia Tech – The former Cushing Academy and Mass Rivals guard has spent his freshman season backing up a veteran back-court this season as 8th seeded V-Tech will head up against Alabama.
Daxter Miles, West Virginia – The former Notre Dame Prep product has had a better college career than anyone could have projected. This season he’s putting up 13 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal per night for Bob Huggins. The 5th seeded Musketeers meet Murray State in the opening round.
C.J. Keyser & Zach Brown, Wichita State – Keyser has seen time in 18 games this year, his first out of Brewster Academy, as part of a deep back-court rotation. Brown, who spent time at South Kent School, played over 20 minutes per night and is a key part of the rotation fora Wichita State team that is seeded 4th and will play Marshall.
Mike Okauru, Florida – Another former Brewster Academy product, Okauru came on strong to play his way into an offer from Florida and has been a consistent part of the rotation this year while connecting on 39% of his three-point attempts.
Others: Malik Ondigo, who spent his post-graduate year at Putnam Science last year, has played in 13 games this season for Texas Tech…former South Kent big man Jovan Grujic appeared in 23 games this year for Stephen F. Austin….former Vermont Academy forward Christian David has played in 24 games this season for Butler…Purdue features both former Beaver Country Day big man Jacquil Taylor, who has played in 16 games this year, along with former Brewster Academy forward Aaron Wheeler.
Jared Terrell, Jarvis Garrett, and Andre Berry, Rhode Island – Terrell was one of the A10’s best this season as the Rams took the regular season championship. Garrett, a Notre Dame Prep alum and fellow senior, has been huge anchoring the team’s second unit. Berry, a St. Andrew’s alum who went to junior college before returning to the state, has been better than anyone could have expcted with 9 points per game on 63% shooting from the floor. Former Expressions coach Tyron Boswell also serves as one of the team’s assistant coaches.
Devonte Graham, Kansas – The former Brewster Academy guard has established himself as one of the best players in college basketball this year. He’s averaged over 17 points, 7 assists, and nearly four rebounds per night while pulling off some late game heroics to lead Kansas to a Big 12 tournament championship. Now he leads the top seeded Jayhawks into the tournament as the top seed in the Midwest where they’ll open with…
A.J. Brodeur, Max Rothschild, Jackson Donahue, Ray Jerome, and Collin McManus, Penn – Brodeur, the former NMH and New England Playaz forward, is one of the Ivy League’s best as just a sophomore while Rothschild, a former New Hampton post-grad, has been huge up front as well. Donahue and McManus, also both NMH alums, add to the attack while former Cheshire Academy product Ray Jerome provides an athlete on the perimeter.
E.J. Crawford, Deyshonee Much, Schadrac Casimir, Zach Lewis, & C.J. Seaforth, Iona – The Gaels have a collection of New England natives, with an especially strong Connecticut contingent. Crawford starred at St. Thomas More while Casimir did a post-graduate year at South Kent following a big career at Trinity Catholic. Lewis is a Northwest Catholic alum and Seaforth a graduate of Hamden. Much spent time at Redemption Christian Academy. Together that group accounted for over 60% of Iona’s offense as they won their 3rd consecutive MAAC championship. They meet Duke in the opening round of the field.
Mustapha Heron, Auburn – The former Sacred Heart High School star has had a big sophomore season for Bruce Pearl as he’s averaged a team best 16.6 points per night along with nearly 6 boards. He’ll need to be at his best this week as the Tigers meet a hot Charleston team in the opening round.
Paschal Chukwu, Matt Moyer, & Ray Featherston, Syracuse – The Fairfield Prep and Connecticut Basketball Club alum, Chukwu, is blocking almost 3 shots per game this year in the middle of the Orange zone while his brother Featherston joins him on the roster as well. Chukwu is the team’s starting center while former South Kent forward Moyer plays about 18 minutes off the bench every night. Syracuse was slotted in the play-in game where they’ll meet…
Kimani Lawrence & Vitaliy Shibel, Arizona State – The Sun Devils are dancing and celebrated freshman Kimani Lawrence, formerly of the New Hampton School and Expressions, is making an impact after starting the season on the injured list. Shibel, a former Lee Academy big man, is part of the rotation too having played in all 31 games this season.
Jarrell Brantley, Charleston – Brantley, who previously starred at Notre Dame Prep, didn’t start his season until mid-December but he’s been nothing short of huge since his return as he’s averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds per night for the Cougars.
Myles Powell & Tristan Thompson, Seton Hall – The former South Kent guard has transformed his body since arriving in the Big East and developed into one of the conference’s top perimeter scorers as a result. He put up 15 points, along with 3 boards and dimes, a night while connecting on nearly 39% of his three-point attempts. Former Brewster Academy big man Tristan Thompson is also sitting out for Seton Hall following his transfer from Syracuse. In the first round the Pirates will face…
Abdul-Malik Abu, N.C. State – The Wolfpack have exceeded all expectations in their first year under Kevin Keatts and Abu, the former Kimball Union Academy and Expressions big man, has been part of that rotation as he’s averaged 15 minutes, 5 points, and 3 rebounds per night.
Others: Paul Newman, who did a post-grad year at St. Andrew’s, played in 19 games for Bucknell this season while NMH alum Jordan Sechan appeared in 14